When veteran Robert Krause heard that the new Veterans Administration outpatient medical clinic in Niagara Falls would share a building with a funeral home, he and other veterans were unhappy.
“It just sends a bad message” Krause said. “We’re going to go in the front door and go out the back door?”
But now it’s the funeral home that has gone out the door.
Spallino-Amigone Funeral Home has moved out of its longtime location at 1300 Pine Ave., leaving the entire building to the VA.
Some local veterans were glad to see that, feeling that it was just a bad look for a medical clinic to share space with a funeral home.
“It just didn’t seem right, Krause said. “A lot of us were planning to go somewhere else.”
Anthony Amigone Jr., president of the Amigone Funeral Home chain, said Spallino-Amigone moved to Military Road in the Town of Niagara about two months ago.
He said the move was requested by the new owner of 1300 Pine, Acquest Development of Williamsville.
“The people who bought the building came to us and said, ‘We’d really like to have the whole building for the VA,’ ” Amigone said.
Evangeline E. Conley, spokeswoman for the VA in Buffalo, said the agency took no part in requesting the funeral home to move out. Acquest officials did not return calls seeking comment.
Amigone said he hadn’t heard of any complaints from veterans, whose Niagara Falls clinic now is located in much smaller quarters at 2201 Pine Ave.
The VA sought a larger site. Its original plan was to have a private developer renovate about three-quarters of the 10,000-square-foot building as a clinic, and let the funeral home continue to operate in the remainder of the structure.
Amigone Ventures sold the building to 1300 Pine Avenue LLC, an Acquest subsidiary, for $275,000 on April 1. Spallino-Amigone was going to pay rent if it had remained there, Amigone said. Acquest will be the VA’s landlord.
The VA has several outpatient clinics in the region, including Buffalo, Lockport and Lackawanna.
Rus Thompson, a local veteran, said he was upset about the Niagara Falls co-location plan when he first heard about it, too. But upon further thought, he sees the benefits.
“If you think about the layout of a funeral home, it’s all big rooms,” Thompson said. “It’s all handicapped accessible. Where we are right now is not handicapped accessible. You’ve got a waiting room that holds five or six people.”
“When people are waiting for blood tests, the line’s out the door,” Krause said.
Conley said the new clinic will open in the spring. The new clinic will have more space for specialty services and for telemedicine, she said.
In May, 1300 Pine Avenue LLC obtained an exemption from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency on paying sales tax on building materials and furnishings in the renovated building.
That was to save the company an estimated $34,000 toward its $900,000 project.
Susan C. Langdon, NCIDA executive director, said the company would have to apply for additional incentives if the alteration of the project means more aid is needed.
Meanwhile, Spallino-Amigone now shares space with Otto Redanz Funeral Home at 2215 Military Road. Amigone said all customers who pre-arranged funerals with Spallino-Amigone have been informed in writing of the change in locations.
A sign about the funeral home’s move was posted at the old location, which Krause thinks will relieve some veterans who might have been reluctant to go there for health care.
“Now that they’re not going to be operating, it’s a load off our minds,” Krause said.
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